As you may have heard, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder recently decided to take complete leave of his senses and sue the owners of the Washington City Paper over a months-old cover story by Dave McKenna entitled "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder." Snyder's decision has had two immediate effects. First, it has caused McKenna's original piece to take on new life through the phenomenon known as "The Streisand Effect." And second, it has basically proven Snyder to be precisely the person that McKenna describes in his piece: a brainless, petty tyrant who brings a trademarked brand of incompetence upon everything he touches.
The Washington City Paper's publisher, Amy Austin, has published a letter to her readers, updating them on where things stand in the pending legal action. Her tone is confident and unbowed. In her letter, she touts the success of their legal defense fund, which has thus far brought in $28,000. She offers that it is a "thrill ... fighting to defend our journalism." She cautions Snyder that "what people seem to be saying is that ... they want you to focus for as long as you own the Redskins on the stewardship of the team," and not mount dubious lawsuits against local newspapers. And she is "confident we'll triumph in court."
She has good reason to be confident:
Snyder's litigators, and ours, are about to spend significant time and money battling over a series of legal complaints that, in our view, don't represent what our story actually said or implied. The story didn't actually say the things Snyder has claimed it does--like call him a criminal, or a user of illegal military chemicals, or mock his wife's battle against breast cancer. It did none of those things. In media interviews and in our own pages, City Paper editors have pointed this out repeatedly since the case was filed.
The truth of this is, at times, pretty hilarious. Let's take the fact that Snyder's suit actually attempts to make the case that the City Paper was telling an "egregious falsehood" by saying that "Snyder caused Agent Orange to be used to destroy trees 'protected by the National Park Service' on 'federally protected lands.'" I've dealt with this matter before, but I'll let Austin explain why this is uniformly stupid in her own words:
Using the sort of hyperbole known to great columnists the world around, McKenna writes that Snyder "made a great view of the Potomac River for himself by going all Agent Orange on federally protected lands." In our view, no one could read that to mean that Snyder, or anyone else, deployed a carcinogenic military chemical right next to his own property. Indeed, the piece goes on to say Snyder "cut down trees." An inspector general's report subsequently blamed a top parks official for intervening to give Snyder a green light. But what's undisputed is that Snyder arranged to cut down 130 trees on park service land.
It's pretty amazing that there's a team of litigators anywhere in the world that truly believes that they are going to make this case on the basis of McKenna having used the quip, "going all Agent Orange." But that's the level of legal intelligence we seem to be operating at in this case.
To my mind, this means that Snyder has either found lawyers as stupid as he is or that he's engaged top-dollar legal help that's mostly planning on taking Snyder's ducats and phoning it in. Either case would be completely consistent with Snyder's managerial mien. Longtime Redskins fans will recognize the former possibility as "pulling a Vinny Cerrato," and the latter as "pulling an Albert Haynesworth."
At any rate, if you'd like to contribute to the City Paper's legal defense fund, here you go.
To Our Readers (and Dan Snyder) [Washington City Paper]
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
Dan Snyder Makes Good On Threat, Sues Washington City Paper
Dan Snyder Mounts Charm Offensive Many Years Too Late
If Dan Snyder's Lawsuit Is A 'Publicity Stunt,' It Is The Worst Publicity Stunt Ever